Hollywood won’t stop toying with us.
The “Transformers” sequel stomped its way through a holiday box office march that brought the action flick’s cumulative worldwide gross to nearly $600 million. Meanwhile, The Hollywood Reporter notes that Universal won a bidding war to make a movie based on the old-school Atari TV video game Asteroids. Now there’s talk of an upcoming film based on a considerably more retro, pre-TV diversion: the View-Master.
“Fringe” co-producer and writer Brad Caleb Kane Tweeted he’s developing a View-Master script that will “be like the old '80s Amblin movies: Goonies, Young Sherlock... In that vein.” He didn’t offer many details, but presumably the movie will be shot in 3-D, a feature that proved a major selling point for the plastic slide viewer when it was introduced 70 years ago.
The news follows months of other reports suggesting Hollywood is officially out of ideas, with flicks based on everything from Monopoly to Battleship in the works.
The toy talk probably doesn’t represent an idea deficit as much as it does movie executives trying to play things safe by relying on the familiar and banking, in some cases, on nostalgia. The suits, no doubt, are emboldened by huge success of the “Transformers” franchise, which likely means we’re going to be hearing about a lot more Mickey Mouse moves.
Speaking of Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney may indirectly shoulder some blame for today’s flood of toy stories. Some eight decades ago, the animator began exploiting, like no one before or since, toy and other product tie-ins to movies. But somewhere along the way, the toys started spawning films. (The Disney spirit lives on at his own studio: Take the “Toy Story” movies, and “The Pirates of the Caribbean” juggernaut, which was launched by a Disney World attraction.)
So for movie fans, this may become a game of "if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em."
What toys or games do you think could make the transition from shelves to theaters?
Use the comments section below to make your pitch for “Slinky: The Movie” (“It’ll walk down stairs – and out the door to wreak havoc in the streets!”), or whatever toys or games you’d pay money to see on the big screen.
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992.